The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a unit composed of 28 countries from Europe and North America with the sole purpose of fulfilling the objectives as set by the North Atlantic Treaty, put in place in the mid-20th century. Therefore, with this treaty in mind, the main function of NATO is to secure and safeguard the freedom of the member countries. This intervention can be either through political or military means or both. The organization has for a long time played a leading role in peacekeeping missions as well as at times of crisis management. NATO is the leading International Security Assistance Force (abbreviated ISAF). For a long time, the terrorist group Taliban was controlling much of Afghanistan, until NATO had to intervene since the group was doing more harm than good. With the goal of establishing a democratic, peaceful and secure Afghanistan, NATO took over the leadership of ISAF in the late 2003. The Taliban had to be rooted out. At first, NATO was restricted its peacekeeping activities around and in Kabul, Afghanistan capital, also the base of Taliban. However, with time, the ISAF (now under the command of NATO) has extended its mission to cover the whole country (NATO). After more than a decade in Afghanistan, NATO is now ready to call off its main operations in 2014. This paper tries to analyze how this transition should be dealt with.
NATO’s Departure and its Implications
NATO is scheduled to officially end its operations in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Initially, it has been planned to hand over its operations to the trained Afghan forces, with the help of NATO. The leadership of NATO has decided to give the Afghan forces the security responsibility systematically, province by province until that time when they will be charged with the responsibility for the whole of Afghanistan. However, for a long time, it has been expected that the NATO troops would retain the command and coordination of all the military operations until that time when the Afghan forces are officially handed over the operations. The latest strategy being discussed is that of giving Afghan forces the command of the operations. This would mean that the combat missions would be led, not by NATO, by the Afghan forces after about mid-2013. In such a case, NATO would only give assistance (WFP, 2012).
Although the activities of Taliban have been severely interrupted by NATO, it should not be lost that the group has not been completely decimated. Its leaders are still at large. Therefore, the threat of them fighting back and taking over the country is very much real. In fact, it has been suggested that the group is deliberately taking a low key stance by not attacking to give a false sense of victory for NATO. This is a cunning tactic to ensure that NATO actually abandons its mission as planned before they strike back. The elected government has not helped matters at all as such vices as corruption are endemic in the country. This simply means that Taliban sympathizers in Afghanistan are growing by the day. As a result, the group is growing stronger each passing day (Sommerville, 2014). It can be said that this points to a very dark future for Afghanistan if indeed NATO completely abandons its mission. It is feared that Taliban will take over the country (Borger, 2012). It is feared that a civil war could break out if NATO leaves (BBC, 2011).
The possibility of Afghanistan resorting to its Taliban leadership is high. Hence, it would be very unwise if NATO abandoned its mission completely. It would be better if it maintained its mission though in a different capacity and performing non-combat tasks. The NATO officials are aware of this. It’s been reported that NATO will not leave completely; rather its activity will change after the Afghan forces have taken over the security responsibilities (Yan, 2011). Since some countries have already planned to depart (like the US in 2013) it can be said that NATO will shift to the coalition of the willing. This paper proposes the best command and control relationship that can be applied under this coalition of the willing, given the different cultures of the forces involved (Eurotopics).
Coalition of the Willing Relationship
Unlike it is the case at the moment, NATO forces would not be expected to be actively involved in the combat missions. This role will be taken up by the Afghan forces. The NATO forces will have to change their roles in ensuring that there’s peace in the country. Therefore, it can be argued that they will be engaged only in stability operations. That is, ensuring that Afghanistan is safer, there is humanitarian relief, infrastructure development is achieved and that essential services are given to the people (JP, 2011). However, the NATO coalition is composed of forces from 28 different nations and cultures. While going to war mainly entails following commands from the mission leaders at combat, the roles that they will take up after 2014 will require more than just. They will have to display their humane side to the people. This will require more integration than ever before, as they would be required to be in tandem at all times. However, relating to all cultures can be a daunting task. Here, the paper analyzes some of the cultural considerations and how the soldiers can apply as they relate to counterparts from different backgrounds.
Power Distance Index
All military forces acknowledge that there have to be leaders in charge of the forces. These leaders are to command and coordinate all the actions, and inactions, of the military activities. Therefore, all the NATO forces would have to admit the superiority of their leaders and they have to relate to them as so. It is a common practice for junior officers to report to the seniors at all times. NATO forces should continue with this practice (MindTools).
Many military forces are characterized by a low individualism scale. This is because the success of the military operation is more important than the success of an individual. Therefore, the soldiers have to show mutual respect for age, suppress emotion and introduce changes systematically. This would ensure there is mutual respect (MindTools).
For one to have joined NATO forces, it simply means that the individual is strong enough, just like the rest. Thus, the soldiers have to acknowledge this, disregarding the gender. The soldiers have to maintain a low masculinity level for them to work in harmony. Everyone has to be treated equally (MindTools).
The soldiers are from different countries and tutored in a certain way. Therefore, cultural diversity should be prominent. This scale should be high among the soldiers. However, mutual respect for traditions should be encouraged. Extravagance of traditions should not be encouraged though. The leaders have to ensure that the soldiers are committed to the course at all times. Integration of cultures should be encouraged (MindTools).
The soldiers come from different countries, political systems, economic systems, geographical areas and historical backgrounds. However, all of them will be joined in the same country facing the same challenges under the same conditions. Thus, rather than concentrating on the different systems they have been brought up in, they should focus on the same system they will be in. This is because, in one way or another, almost everyone will experience a culture shock. This will take a lot of sacrifice and help from the more accustomed persons. This simply means that the soldiers have to be more integrated amongst themselves as much as possible. This would make their stay a little bit easier.
NATO did a great job when it attacked the terrorist group Taliban and removed it from power. While it has been on the forefront in combat missions for the past decade, it is high time that they left this job to the Afghans. However, the resilience of the Taliban demands that NATO still remains in the country albeit taking on a low profile. This change of strategy gives the forces the chance to display their other humane side. This requires greater personality skills for them to be effective. Thus, they have to help each other at all times. More importantly, they have to relate to each other properly despite their cultural differences.